Yann Martel

Fables for the 21st Century


Late last year--in November, to be precise--I had the incredible opportunity to spend three weeks holed up in a cabin the forest at the Banff Centre for the Arts. I was in Banff as part of a cohort of ten writers commissioned to write fables addressing issues of concern to our time...Fables for the 21st century

My fable looked at the relationship between an android (robot) and human being. I wanted to look at how the advent of love or sex robots will impact our already challenging ability to form intimate relationships with other human beings. Will robots or AI ever develop a consciousness in the way we might understand it? What are the ethics of being in a relationship with a non-living being? 

While in Banff, I worked in the Henriquez Studio, a refurbished fishing boat, home to many generations of writers before me. It's where Yann Martel wrote part of Life of Pi, and where Alistair MacLeod worked as well. I worked under the mentorship of Madeleine Thien, Rawi Have, and Lisa Moore, and in creative collaboration with nine other incredible writers (and many deer and elk). It was an inspired and deeply productive time. I'm grateful to the Banff Centre and to our sponsors for the time and opportunity to create.

Our fables will be published later this year as part of a limited edition anthology, complete with commissioned drawings and artwork. Stay tuned for launch details!